Noxopharm announces collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health

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Clinical-stage drug development company Noxopharm (ASX:NOX) has announced a formal collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) within the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the quest for more effective treatments of brain cancer.

The company said the collaboration relates to a new family of molecules designed by Noxopharm scientists that combines the traditional role of chemotherapy drugs with an ability to block ‘helper’ growth signals coming from neighbouring healthy cells.

It said those ’helper’ signals from neighbouring stromal cells have emerged as an important contributor to the highly aggressive nature of certain cancers, notably cancers of the brain, pancreas and bile duct.

"Finding drugs that block these ‘helper’ signals in a tumour’s micro-environment has become a major new direction in oncology, offering the prospect of meaningful survival benefits in patients where effective treatment options continue to remain elusive. The challenge lies in blocking these signals without damaging their source, something even more vital in the case of the brain," said the company.

"Noxopharm believes that it has achieved this objective in pre-clinical studies, combining potent killing of cancer cells with a secondary action that blocks the action of the ‘helper’ growth signals in a well-tolerated way. The objective is a drug that will convert aggressive brain cancers in adults and children into slow-growing cancers more able to be effectively managed by other treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy."

Mioara Larion, a principal investigator at the Neuro-Oncology Branch at NCI, said, “We are enthusiastic about this collaboration that aims to find new targeted molecular therapies for patients affected by diseases in the central nervous system, particularly brain cancers.”

Noxopharm CEO Graham Kelly PhD added, “The principle of this approach is applicable to a wide variety of highly aggressive cancers. Brain cancer is our first program, and a separate pancreatic cancer program is underway with details to be announced shortly.”